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date: 08 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The important role played by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in the radicalization of the early phase of the French Revolution has never been in doubt. Most histories continue to focus on the regal couple’s real, and supposed, role in fomenting counter-revolution at home and especially abroad. This chapter engages with the complex question of the dwindling fortunes of Louis XVI’s monarchy from a more domestic angle. It focuses on that neglected, though crucial, year of 1790 which witnessed the failure to erect a viable constitutional settlement. It became impossible to accommodate both Crown and assembly in a viable working relationship. Essentially, the king’s distrust for the deputies, who had little by little arrogated his remaining powers, proved insurmountable. The monarchy’s passive resistance to the revolution’s early reform programme and political culture became increasingly unpopular. This created a radicalized and tension-filled atmosphere which pushed the revolution into hitherto unexpected directions.

Keywords: Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, constitutional monarchy, counter revolution, Constituent Assembly

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